Only a decade ago, when programmatic advertising was emerging as the way to transact and place digital ads, publishers used supply-side platforms (SSPs) as an efficient way to sell remnant inventory while continuing to sell the majority of inventory through direct deals.
Publishers and brands soon realised the benefits of programmatic and now the majority of digital advertising is traded in this fashion.
As brands and agencies ramped up programmatic ad spend, the inner workings of the supply chain came under scrutiny and transparency and effectiveness became the most talked about topics in our industry. Both ends of the supply chain started to ask the question.... what makes a good tech partner?
Table stakes for an SSP
Despite the ubiquity of the walled gardens in this market, many publishers want to work with SSPs that provide a single independent solution and are able to provide a one-stop-shop to efficiently sell all their inventory.
When publishers work with independent SSPs that can support all revenue streams - not just those under their direct control - they improve efficiency and effectiveness across all channels, including display, video and CTV. Independent SSPs are also able to offer media buyers more transparency than the walled gardens, which largely operate as black boxes, something that buyers are actively trying to move away from.
Good SSPs invest in developing tools that put publishers in control of managing their inventory and demand in yield-positive ways across all selling methods, including price flooring, buyer rules, and innovative ways to package inventory within a private marketplace across all ad formats.
The difference between good and great
Publishers and brands come in all shapes and sizes. This also means that their requirements are diverse. Some may operate in niche segments, some may only exist in specific markets, and others may be highly seasonal. Successful SSPs work tirelessly to ensure they can support and optimise all ad formats, use data to maximise fill rates and eCPMs, and provide cross-channel insights.
This is especially pertinent when it comes to OTT which is still very much in its infancy. Emerging OTT platforms and early adopter brands desperately need data-driven insights that show how OTT campaigns perform against other channels and how audiences engage with OTT ads.
Great SSPs build for the future - creating solutions for the upcoming cookie-less / IDFA-less world. By building ahead of the curve, innovative SSPs provide publishers and buyers with the ability to test and learn before change happens - ensuring they are set up for success when the time comes. This means investing in tech development to support emerging formats and new solutions.
Doubling down on the best
Brands and agencies are doubling down on their efforts to consolidate spend across their preferred supply partners, which will further limit the number of tech providers that can effectively do business profitably. With consolidation we will see publisher revenue increase with higher ad spends, lower operational costs, more financial transparency, and improved efficiency as the number of partners they need to manage is reduced.
Fewer partners should also mean higher levels of service and an increased ability to collaborate to design product roadmaps that meet the needs of brands, publishers, and tech companies.
Marcus Pousette is country manager, Southeast Asia, Greater China and Korea at PubMatic